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Travel elite come to Edinburgh

Press Release   •   Feb 24, 2016 12:56 GMT

Top travel professionals from around the world are set to descend on Edinburgh as the Guardian and Observer Travel Awards come to Scotland, in partnership with VisitScotland.

The awards, now in their 28th year, are a celebration of the travel industry and award top services to the industry. They are held in a different city each year, with the Scottish capital taking the honour for 2016, on Friday 4 March.

The event is a key date in the travel industry calendar and is attended by around 100 senior and influential members of the travel industry, tour operators, airlines and tourism organisations.

VisitScotland was instrumental in bringing the Guardian and Observer Travel Awards to Scotland and is sponsoring the event to highlight the appeal of Scotland to tourists and Guardian readers.

The awards are divided into 15 categories including favourite UK city, favourite ferry company and favourite small tour operator. Previous Scottish winners have included Edinburgh and Caledonian MacBrayne, and international winners have included Japan, and Iceland.

The ceremony will take place at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and will be hosted by Anstruther-born radio DJ, Edith Bowman. Winners are chosen by Guardian readers and Guardian editorial staff. The results will be published on and in the newspaper.

Attendees will enjoy three days in Scotland with a variety of experiences on offer in Edinburgh, and Glasgow, including cycling at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, bagpipe lessons, whisky distillery tours, a round of golf at the iconic Gleneagles course and a view from the top of the Forth Bridge.

Festivals Edinburgh and Marketing Edinburgh will host a special dinner and ceilidh on the first night with entertainment from Whisky Kiss, who recently played to a 4,000 capacity crowd at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay to clinch the Guinness World Record for the ‘World’s Longest Strip the Willow’.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said:

“It is an honour that the Guardian has chosen to hold its prestigious travel awards in our beautiful Scottish capital city. For Edinburgh to be hosting an event such as this is an exciting opportunity to put Scotland on the world stage and give key travel professionals a taste of what makes our country an attractive and aspirational destination for visitors.

“In 2015, Scotland built on 2014’s spectacular Homecoming with the Year of Food and Drink, and that momentum is set to continue as we celebrate the dynamism of our country in the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.”

Nick Hewat, Commercial Director at Guardian News & Media, said:

“We’re excited to be in Edinburgh in what promises to be a great event. The Guardian and The Observer Travel Awards are a key event in the tourism calendar and set the benchmark for the industry.”

The Guardian and Observer Travel Awards come ahead of Scottish Tourism Week (11-18 March) and will seek to raise the profile of VisitScotland’s first ever global campaign and social movement – the Spirit of Scotland.

The campaign aims to raise the spirit and profile of Scotland to the highest it has ever been by igniting the power of a nation behind tourism in a new creative approach through television, radio, print, digital advertising and social media.

People are encouraged to share their experience of Scotland on social media with the hashtag #ScotSpirit, and in doing so become part of special global movement with social, economic and charitable aims.

For more on #ScotSpirit, go to

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland       to visit different parts of the country
    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international       opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One       Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
  • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP.
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to
  • For information about business events in Scotland go to

    Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

  • 2016 will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design begins on 1 January 2016 and ends on 31 December 2016 and will build on the momentum generated by the current 2015 Year of Food and Drink as well as previous years including Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland’s position as an “innovation nation”, its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • Join the conversation at #IAD2016
  • Events can join the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design Partner Programme throughout the year by visiting